Quiet quitting is one of the issues being talked about on a regular basis these days. It’s where someone becomes disengaged at work but doesn’t actually quit. Instead, they show up every day and do what’s asked of them, but nothing more. They basically do just enough to keep from getting fired. The Gallup organization estimates that quiet quitting comprises as much as 50% of the workforce in many companies! Obviously, this behavior curtails productivity, slowing a company’s growth, and causing lost revenue and profits.
But there is another, more expensive cost to the organization. And this cost is not obvious at first. It’s hidden until it reveals itself, which by then, is too late to fix.
It causes your best employees to quit.
Let me explain the dynamics and what you can do about it.
Typically, most organizations who have an intentional culture (meaning a culture that’s by design rather than by default), value things like professionalism, showing mutual respect, having integrity, being solution-oriented, and being collaborative. When a leader and/or an organization tolerates the behaviors associated with quiet quitting, it undermines the culture of the company.
Doing the very minimum is not only lazy, but it’s unprofessional. Professionals don’t need to be told in detail what needs to be done. They want to do a good job and will usually do whatever it takes to ensure the work gets done accurately and timely. But, when a leader tolerates a poor work ethic, it sends the message that there’s no need to work hard. Doing the minimum has no negative consequence.
Additionally, in order to meet deadlines and the needs of the organization – because the quiet quitters are slowing progress – the better, more engaged, more professional team members end up working harder to pick up the slack. After all, that’s what professionals do – whatever it takes to get the job done correctly and on time.
The consequence of all this is that many of your best employees will either become quiet quitters themselves or will quit and find a company who has a better, more positive culture.
So, how do you address and reverse the whole situation, so you avoid losing good employees and re-engage the quiet quitters?
Your initial instinct might be to take a harder line with quiet quitters and require them to step up their game or get fired. But this approach would be misguided. And it’s misguided because:
Quiet quitting is a symptom, not a problem.
When you take steps to address a symptom, it usually makes matters worse. The key, therefore, is to identify the underlying problem causing quiet quitting. And that brings us back to the well-known phrase: People don’t quit companies, they quit bosses.
Quiet quitting is caused by the way they are treated by the people who lead them. If people are treated like things, engagement drops. If adults are treated like children, engagement drops. If people are not treated with respect, engagement drops. If leaders lack integrity, engagement drops. And if leaders are unappreciative, taking people for granted, engagement drops.
Most leaders want to do a good job and want to be an effective leader, yet many fall short. They usually fall short for one or more of these reasons:
1. The skills needed to lead aren’t the same skills that got them where they are.
2. Many leaders model the same poor behavior they saw in the leaders who proceeded them
3. Regardless of intellect, education, or years of experience, we all have blind spots and can’t see what we’re missing.
The key, therefore, to reversing quiet quitting and all its implications, is to improve the effectiveness of the leaders and managers.